WVU's Belnome Living His Dream
- By Grant Dovey
- June 15, 2011 12:11 PM
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Growing up in Coatesville, Pa., all Vince Belnome wanted to do was to get an opportunity to play professional baseball.
After being a three-time team MVP, a member of the Chester County Carpenter Cup and finishing his career at Coatesville High with a school-record .490 career batting average, it was not enough to get drafted and Belnome decided to sign with the West Virginia University baseball team to hone his skills at the collegiate level.
It was then after his junior season in 2009 with the Mountaineers when the San Diego Padres called Belnome’s name in the 28th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Belnome then had a decision whether to stay another year at the collegiate level or follow his dreams and start his professional baseball career.
Belnome chose to follow his dreams.
“All I wanted was a chance to play professional ball and show them what I could do,” Belnome recalled.
A rare left-handed hitter and right-handed infielder, Belnome is now a member of the San Antonio Missions, San Diego’s Double-A affiliate, and has been wowing the crowds with his versatile hitting approach in the fifth spot in the batting order.
“This year has been going great. We clinched our first half title in the league, so the team is doing well and these are the guys that I have pretty much played with since I started,” Belnome said. “It’s basically the same group of guys and we’ve been playing together for almost three years now. We’re meshed as a team and we just know how to get it done.
“It makes it a lot easier on everybody else because we know our roles on the team and we play them and make sure we’re helping everyone else.”
Through 59 games, Belnome carries a .318 batting average with 68 hits, 44 runs, 16 doubles, one triple, 12 home runs, 47 RBIs and 40 walks.
In his last 10 games, Belnome is 17 for 36 (.472) with 13 runs, one double, one triple, six home runs and 19 RBIs, while also being named the Texas League Player of the Week for the week ending June 12.
Belnome credits the hitting approach and off-season work he did with WVU assistant coach Pat Sherald as the part of the reason for his tremendous success in pro ball.
“That’s all we did in the offseason. We had 30-some stations set up in the IPF on hitting,” Belnome remembered. “(Sherald) loved my approach and told me to stick with that and he knew if I was struggling and would know exactly how to fix it.”
Serving as a second baseman and designated hitter for the Mountaineers in 2009, Belnome remembered the lineup that featured eight of the nine hitters batting above .322 for the season and seven of the nine playing professional baseball at one point.
“It was unbelievable playing with those guys and I wish them all the best of luck in years to come,” Belnome said. “Jedd (Gyorko) and I are in San Diego together and (Tyler) Kuhn is leading the Double-A in batting average.”
Belnome will likely peek across the diamond and see his former teammate in a few weeks as Gyorko is leading the Single-A Advanced league in just about every offensive category while playing with Lake Elsinore in the California League. Gyorko was named a league all-star and is currently batting .384 with 66 runs, 106 hits, 30 doubles, one triple, 15 home runs, 64 RBIs and 11 steals.
“It would be awesome if he was called up,” Belnome said. “We all saw what he was able to do in college and when you have a hitter of his caliber; it just makes everyone else better.”
Belnome now looks back at his decision to sign with the Padres as something he will never regret.
“It’s quite an experience,” he said. “I’ve been in the northwest, the Midwest, California and now Texas, but that’s another reason I got into baseball, because you get to travel so much and see different areas of the country and sometimes of the world.”
As for possibly getting a call-up to the majors? That’s not even in his mind right now.
“I don’t even think about it, but you never know what will happen,” he laughed.
West Virginia University Mountaineers
San Antonio Missions